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H&G It Yourself: 5 Quick and Easy Sunday Cleaning Projects That Even the Messiest People Can Do

Do these cleaning tasks on a Sunday and future you will thank you for it

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By Bon Appetit US | March 2, 2024 | Diy

Sunday is for waking up late, looking at the ravaged interior of my home, and sinking into deep, dark despair. Sunday is the day I have the least to do and, consequently, the most guilt: I can’t pretend I’m too busy to vacuum around the litter box or tackle that weird pile of t-shirts and orphan socks and hairballs that’s been building up in the corner of my closet since June. Sunday is feeling overwhelmed, giving up, and retreating to the couch to rewatch the tempura episode of Japanese Style Originator. I am Hilary, and I am a Messy Person. Cleaning, for me, is a struggle and never a pleasure, and the hardest part of all is knowing where to start when literally everything needs to be done.

“A messy house can be indicative of a messy mind,” says Joanna Teplin, strumming my pain with her fingers. As a certified Clean Person and cofounder of The Home Edit, a home organization company based in Nashville, she and her business partner, Clea Shearer, live in clutter-free houses with exactly zero weird junk piles. But they say they understand my struggle—and even how to solve it. “The key is to start very small,” says Teplin. “That way, you’ll reap the benefits quickly, build up your confidence and stamina, and feel encouraged to keep going.”

In that spirit, I identified the five most anxiety-inducing areas of my house and asked Teplin and Shearer for key steps that even the messiest-minded person can use to tidy them up. These steps are simple but impactful, and unlike vacuuming or dusting, they actually last. Best of all? Each one takes less time than it takes to mess it all up again. And you only need to tackle one each Sunday, which means the rest of the day is all yours, despair not included.

The container drawer

The container drawer, Where ne’er a lid and a container shall meet. Image via Pexels.

Completely empty out the cupboard. Match each lid to a container. Find uses for topless containers (maybe they can hold random granola bars or your loose tea bags), then eliminate the rest of the unmoored vessels and tops, along with any that are irreparably stained, stinky, or broken. As for the remaining collection, it’s important to ask yourself: Do I really need all of these? If not, donate.

  • Store the lids and containers in separate areas to avoid overcrowding. A few options:
  • Prop up lids using a plate rack or sectioned divider then arrange containers alongside.
  • Get an under-shelf basket that can create another level to your cabinet. Categorize the containers by size on the original shelf, then store the corresponding lids in the basket.
  • Store lids in shallow bins with labelled categories, then stack the corresponding containers next door.

If you have lots of space to spare, go with the easiest solution: Store your containers as matching sets and stack ‘em up neatly, but know that you’ll always have to return them to this position, lest you risk once again descending into total chaos.

The bottom of the closet

The bottom of the closet, Where all clothes, shoes, and scarves go to die heaven. Image via Pexels.

If you tend to throw your clothes on the floor instead of folding them neatly and returning them to their place (🙋🏻), designate a certain hamper as purgatory for clean-ish clothes. This acts as a tidy-looking storage space until you’re ready to return them to their intended home while preventing them from piling up on the floor or some random chair.

Store shoes, too often strewn about, vertically. String a shoe organizer over the inside of closet door or, if you have lots of shelving, stack them in their shoe boxes (or, if you've recycled those, space-saving acrylic boxes).

Sick of looking at that scarf in July or your bathing suit in February? Create seasonal bins for summer and winter, stow them somewhere out of the way (like under the bed or on that too-high shelf at the top of your closet), then swap them when the weather changes.

How to Clean Out Your Fridge

The fridge: Where something might very well be rotting. Image via Pexels.
  • Take everything out of the fridge and toss anything that’s no longer edible or identifiable. Then remove the shelves and wipe them down with cleaning solution (try this one if you’re the DIY type!). Tuck an open container of baking soda towards the back while you’re at it—this will absorb unwanted odors.
  • Designate a spot for leftovers (and check it often) so you won’t forget about them until the entire house smells like week-old takeout.

To cut down on the clutter, invest in several acrylic containers for your fridge staples (like yogurts, grapes, kale, bags of nuts, jams, etc.) and give them permanent homes (and labels!) in your fridge. Not only does it keep your fridge clean and uncluttered, but these defined spaces will help you easily take stock of your items before heading to the grocery store. Want to get really fancy? Snag a turntable for your condiments: The spinning motion will help you assess your stock and avoid reaching into the back of the fridge for the harissa.

The pantry

The pantry: Where there may or may not be something that can become dinner. Image via Pexels.
  • Feeling ambitious? Transfer your dry goods (grains, lentils, beans, the like) into tall, skinny containers. You can pack more items onto a shelf and spot exactly what you’re looking for more quickly.
  • But if you don’t want to come home from the grocery store and funnel everything into canisters (...can’t blame you), opt for open bins to group your bags and jars by category, like pastas, canned beans, canned tomatoes, snacks, etc .
  • A three-tiered riser will help you take advantage of vertical space without the precarious tower of cans and spice jars.

What to Clean in Your Bathroom

Your Bathroom: Where there are three nearly-empty bottles of the same conditioner. Image via Pexels.
  • Repurpose a hanging spice rack to display all of your everyday items instead of squeezing them onto the counter.
  • Divide your toiletries by purpose (hair, teeth, skin care), then store them in separate stackable bins under the sink. Small items can even go into a divided turntable.
  • Create extra space by sticking self-adhesive pods inside your cabinet door or medicine cabinet. They’re the perfect size for holding upright items, like combs, toothbrushes, and nail polish, that take up too much room otherwise.

This story originally appeared on Bon Appetit US.